WA auditor general names top departments for 2019

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday November 20, 2019

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The Western Australia auditor-general has praised 40 government departments and agencies for demonstrating best practice in their financial reporting and controls.

The WA Treasury, the Mental Health Commission, and the Public Sector Commission were among the entities that ticked all the right boxes in the audits conducted by Auditor-General Caroline Spencer this year.

In her latest audit results report, which has summarised 137 audits completed by November 5, Spencer said she was pleased the number of state government entities with “serious deficiencies” halved from six last year to three this year. However, there was still room for improvement.

“This year across the state government sector we identified 323 financial management control, 44 key performance indicator and 434 information system control weaknesses. Disappointingly, too many findings reported to management in prior years are still not addressed,” she said.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, the Rottnest Island Authority, and the WA Greyhound Racing Association were the three entities issued with a qualified audit opinion — a note from Spencer when something in the audit has been found to be misleading or inadequate.

The department had “significant weaknesses” in its general computer controls which could have left their financial system susceptible to fraudulent transactions. The Rottnest Island Authority, meanwhile, had not properly implemented controls over rate changes and discounts in regards to accommodation, bike and equipment hire and other miscellaneous items. The WA Greyhound Racing Association was also called out for incorrectly recording revenue from grants in its financial statements, and for failing to report attendance at race meetings.

But there were some positives. Spencer noted that after years of calling for more streamlined financial reporting for smaller entities, the Treasury had finally approved the use of less detail in its financial statements, which Spencer argued would reduce the annual reporting cost burden of small and medium sized entities, while providing relevant information.

“We also saw improvement in corporations operating at arm’s length from government who tabled their annual Statements of Corporate Intent much earlier than in previous years,” she said.

Spencer only made four recommendations, calling for entities to maintain the integrity of their financial control environment, periodic reviews of KPIs, and a timely tabling of Statements of Corporate Intent. She also suggested Treasury continue to assist entities with the adoption of new accounting standards in the WA public sector, while the entities should prepare for these new standards. 

There was little mention of the Housing Authority, which faces a review following allegations that senior public servant Paul Whyte stole up to $25 million from the agency over several years. The audit report noted that the Housing Authority was late in submitting its financial statement in the lead up to its audit.

READ MORE: Senior public servant stole up to $25m, watchdog alleges

The report included a list of the top 20 small and top 20 large entities for best practice in their financial reporting and controls:

Top 20 large entities 

Commissioner of Main Roads 

Construction Industry Long Service Leave Payments Board 

Department of Finance 

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, formerly Mines and Petroleum 

Department of Training and Workforce Development

Department of Transport 

Department of Treasury 

Electricity Generation and Retail Corporation (Synergy) 

Electricity Networks Corporation (Western Power) 

Fremantle Port Authority Gold Corporation Government Employees Superannuation Board 

Insurance Commission of Western Australia Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia 

Lotteries Commission 

Mental Health Commission 

Mid West Ports Authority 

Water Corporation 

Western Australian Tourism Commission 

Western Australian Treasury Corporation


Top 20 small entities 

Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority

Burswood Park Board

The Chemistry Centre (WA)

Country Housing Authority

Department of the Registrar

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission 

Economic Regulation Authority

Kimberley Ports Authority 

Metropolitan Cemeteries Board

Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia 

Office of the Information Commissioner 

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrative Investigations 

Parliamentary departments (Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council, Parliamentary Services) 

Perth Theatre Trust 

Public Sector Commission 

Rural Business Development Corporation 

Small Business Development Corporation 

Western Australian Electoral Commission 

Western Australian Meat Industry Authority 

WorkCover Western Australia Authority 

Zoological Parks Authority

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